Check your PITS
A campaign run by the Lymphoma Association and backed by the Department of Health is aiming to raise awareness of the symptoms of lymphoma amongst students.
Lymphoma is a blood cancer starting in the lymphatic system, which is a part of the body’s immune system. The name of the Lymphoma Association’s campaign, ‘PITS’, is an acronym for four of the disease’s symptoms: Persistent lumps; Itching; Tiredness; and Sweating.
Every year, over 13,400 new patients are diagnosed with lymphoma; there are as many as 75,000 people fighting the disease in the UK today. It is the most common form of cancer in the under-30s, and the fifth most common overall in the UK.
Many of the symptoms of the disease can be confused with the effects of a busy student lifestyle. It is important that students are aware of the disease and are able to recognise its symptoms.
Lumps associated with lymphoma are caused by the swelling of glands located in the armpits, neck, or groin. Whilst swollen glands can be caused by infections, these swellings are short-lived and are often tender; those caused by lymphoma are painless but persistent.
The itching and tiredness caused by lymphoma are severe, disrupting daily routines and making it difficult to function normally. Sweating caused by lymphoma is particularly severe at night, and sufferers may find they need to change their sheets.
Other symptoms of lymphoma include abdominal pain, a cough or difficulties breathing, diarrhoea, fever, and unexplained weight loss.
PITS campaign co-ordinator Dave Owen also stressed the importance of being aware of any unusual changes, saying, “We really want people to regularly check their bodies and not hesitate to visit their GP if they are concerned”.
The campaign is keen to get students involved, and has recently recruited 15 ambassadors at universities across the country, including Durham.
Student artwork illustrating the symptoms is also being produced to further awareness of the cancer.
If any of the symptoms of lymphoma sound familiar, students are urged to make an appointment with their GP. The Lymphoma Association’s freephone helpline is also available on 0808 808 5555. Alternatively, email email@example.com.
To find out more about the PITS campaign and get involved, visit www.takeapitstop.org.uk